DALLAS - Texas Baptists' Chaplaincy Relations Office issued guiding principles to its endorsed chaplains regarding same-sex issues in the wake of the military repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and the U.S. Supreme Court's striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Supervisors have asked many of Texas Baptists' approximately 200 military chaplains for guidelines from their endorser regarding how they can minister to same-sex couples.
Chaplains must follow military regulations, but also are bound to the guidelines set forth by their endorsing body, which the military has pledged not to infringe upon. The Baptist General Convention of Texas called its chaplains to minister according to the statements adopted by messengers to the convention's annual meetings.
"Therefore, consistent with this resolution, Texas Baptist chaplains will always conduct themselves in a way that complies with our Texas Baptist belief that marriage is a life-long union between a man and a woman," the guidelines read. "Our ministry practices must adhere to these biblical standards and historical principles irrespective of any civil law to the contrary. The Texas Baptists Office of Chaplaincy Relations expects full compliance by all of its endorsed chaplains."
In following with the guidelines, Texas Baptist chaplains are not permitted to performing same-sex marriages, but can minister to gay members of the military. Christ loves every person, and chaplains can help each military member discover and embrace a relationship with Christ.
"Our approach to pastoral care in specialized settings is to perform the ministries we can or seek to provide someone else to do those ministries we cannot," the statement continues. "We expect our chaplains to be pastoral as servants of our Lord who loved unconditionally and sought to redeem all with whom He interacted. Jesus Christ is our model - redemptive, gracious and merciful."
Texas Baptists Chaplaincy Relations Director Bobby Smith said chaplains serve in specialized settings, creating vast opportunities for ministry to people struggling with a variety of sins. In ministering to each of them, chaplains will stand on the word of God as they care for individuals and address their sins.
"Texas Baptist chaplains want to do a Jesus type of ministry where we love people and address their sin in a caring manner," he said. "We are Texas Baptist ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are seeking to have an authentic, caring Christian ministry where we reflect the light, love and grace of God in Jesus Christ."
For more information about Texas Baptists' chaplaincy, call 888-244-9400.